Tag Archives: friend

To Pam, Ever Steadfast

On Sunday, the world lost the wonder of Pam Blackmon-Bailey. After a lifelong struggle with her own body, she now rests in peace. She leaves behind her husband Craig and three teenage daughters.

Pam was one of my best friends during my time at OBU and one of the reasons I moved to Greensboro those many years ago. We met through mutual friends and over time I was moved to think of her as an amazing woman. From her steady inquisitiveness to her intuitive insights, she was always curious about other people’s lives and troubles, and when she found a solution, she insisted on helping you to find your resolution. She cared. She was inquisitive and steadfast.

I never knew a single soul who found wrong in her.

The last time I saw her was one whirlwind weekend in 1999. She was visiting her sister Stephanie in Little Rock and invited me to come up from Texarkana to hang out with her and her then-boyfriend Craig. We hung out and watched movies, went to bookstores, drank coffee, made dinner, the usual young adult stuff. I went home that Sunday not really knowing that was our last time within hugging range.

I take it for granted that most of my old friends, the ones who I cherish in memory and history, are on social media and that I keep in touch on a semi-regular basis. But I overlook the ones who aren’t there by choice until it’s too late.

You never know where life will take you. But you can know for certain who it will take you from. Don’t let them out of your sight.

Requiem for Greg, Who Lived In Excellence

Requiescat In Pace, Greg Reddin, my friend.

Greg was my best friend in high school. He took me in when I needed a friend. At the time, I was in a state of floating between groups of acquaintances, without anchor, associating with a group of people who insulted me at every opportunity. I would occasionally look over at the lunchroom table where Greg and his friend Steve usually sat, and simultaneously roll my eyes at their laughing antics and be jealous of their joy. After a few weeks with Greg in my bowling class, one day I felt emboldened to ask if I could join their table. Greg swept his arm toward the open chair and accepted.

Within weeks, we found kinship and were the best of friends. Our first outing was to go see “Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure”, and it became a bonding experience for our little group. Later, and for the duration of our youth together, Greg and I would have long conversations about life, friends, love, music, the concept of God, of holiness, of faith, of trying to save the world from itself. At the time, we were brothers in Christ, our only schism being that my church membership was First Baptist and his was Missionary Baptist.

In the course of time, I graduated high school and went on to Ouachita Baptist University. A year later, Greg graduated and went on to Central Baptist College where he and Tanya met and started a lifelong relationship. Greg and I were moved apart by fate, but I still admired him from a distance and held him in high regard.

For the countless years of our adulthood, we were incommunicado — not by malice, but by time and distance; just drifted apart. Through the faculties of the Internet, though, we reconnected a few years ago and caught up. I was surprised at the time to learn of his long and fruitful marriage with Tanya, of fathering 5 wonderful children. More surprising to me was that he went on to learn computer science and find good work writing software in his chosen Arkansas hometown of Conway. During all those years of our youth, it was I who had the computers and programming skill, but he went on to learn it and make it his adult livelihood, for the sake of his family. He exceeded where I made half-measures.

Greg became a vociferous advocate for bicycling in Conway. He helped form a cycling advocacy group, and through that convinced city council to create bike lanes, pedestrian paths, sharrows, and increase the safety and convenience of cycling in the central Arkansas region. There is now a bike path named after him. He exceeded.

Greg and Tanya were avid hikers; I’m sure there is nary a locale in the state where their footsteps did not tread. They took their children along on these adventures and instilled in them a love for the outdoors. He exceeded.

When I learned of his diagnosis with cancer, I was crestfallen. I watched from a distance as Struggle and Hope held a tug of war over Greg and his family. After surgeries, after rounds of chemotherapy, I still held hope that he would turn a corner and get better, that he would return scarred and bruised but enwisened by his battle from within. I thought that he would exceed.

In the end, Greg succumbed to that which ate at him from the inside, weakened by that which was intended to weaken his enemy. By the time he went into intensive care, we knew it wasn’t good.

I got a message from our friend Ruth Ann that he had passed away, age 43, leaving behind a loving family and a legacy of excellence.

43. Greg lived a life of excellence, of servitude to his Lord, of love for his family, of faithfulness to Tanya. He lived his life the right way. He followed the script for success. He breathed the scripture. He did everything right. Cancer.

Where is the justice in that?

Greg, I will miss knowing that you’re out there. I weep for your family and hope, in time, that they will be able to exceed and continue with life. Your pain is over, theirs has just begun. I’m sure that at some point during this struggle they had already made their peace with it, but now the war is over. Their struggle is to piece together what’s left and rebuild, scarred and bruised, but enwisened.

Tanya, I wish the best for you and the children. Greg’s excellence will linger forever in your heart and in their eyes. There is love around you; receive it where you can. You are the survivor. May you also be strong.

Greg Reddin was a good man. An excellent man.

1999-06-13 The Farm (from the archives)

Part of a series of posts from my old website archives. Enjoy!

The Farm!
my place to get away from it all
6.13.99

“In choosing your dwelling, know how to keep to the ground.
In cultivating your mind, know how to dive in the hidden deeps.”
– Tao Te Ching, #8

Freedom?

Now, I have some time to live my life. Yes, friends, I am now gainfully unemployed.

It’s a hard pill to swallow.

My full-time job is now job-hunting. I make it a point to go to five places of employment a day until I find a job. By job, I don’t mean “just a job,” I mean a career. This here, what you see here, that is the career I hope to find. My options are wide open.

I would love to make a career out of my life-long hobby, computer science, and get paid for it. I’d be much happier. There’s a lot to be said for “quality of life.” Working with a team? No problem; that’s preferred. There’s no better feeling of on-the-job peace than working with other people who speak your language, who understand you when you mention <TABLE> tags, CSS, Javascript, transparency, and FTP.

It’s disheartening to hear a coworker, after my short discourse on the difference between PCI and AGP and which they should get for their own home system, say “What?!”

I know what workplace comradery feels like, and I miss it.

I want, finally, to be happy with my job. This unemployment is my chance to do something towards that goal.

Ongoing Goings-On

Currently, as you may have gathered, everything is in limbo. I’m in the process of moving to a new house, and that’s full of snags, snares, and general foibles. Add to that my unemployment, the bills that don’t wait, and whatever else, and I’d say I had a recipe for disaster. But I’m keeping strangely cool about it all. Things will work out, and I know they will.

On a positive note, my friend Stacy is moving back to Texarkana this friday, and it’ll be good to have her back. She’s been gone for half a year, out of state, on her own, and she’s come a long way. She’s grown up a little more. I’m very happy to know that.

She has discovered, like I have, that it takes some time away from home, away from your family, away from everything you have grown up around, to make you more mature than you would have been otherwise. It took me moving to North Carolina to see that. Now she sees that, and she chooses to bring her experience home to share it with us, her friends.

We’ll be waiting, Stacy.

Projects

Gutterhaunt did a killer job at Azanstock last weekend. After hearing them in the practice room so many times, it was excellent to hear them in the open air, surrounded by a lot of hot, tired, and drunk fans and new converts dancing their asses off.

Currently, the last update of their site I’ve posted was on 5.23.99. I’ve been doing much since then, but it’s not complete enough to post online; I’m a perfectionist. Plus, given the current limbo and busy-ness of my life, it will take a while before the next update is ready. Take a moment, however, to see what’s up anyway, ‘k? Give me feedback.

Until then, keep your unit on you-
Shawn